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Cosby Moved to Prison Tonight After Three to Ten Year Sentence; French President Gives Fiery Rebuke to Trump at U.N.; Interview With Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly; Will Trump Fire Rosenstein?; Interview With Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 25, 2018 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The Cosby sentence. The disgraced TV icon is ordered to prison, and is officially declared a sexually violent predator. We will take a closer look at Bill Cosby's sentence and the reaction.

And rebuking Trump. After the president's boasting at the United Nations prompted laughs by world leaders, a crucial U.S. ally is slamming his isolationist message tonight.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news on Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination, as Republicans get more combative in their defense and more dismissive of his accusers.

Tonight, Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans are again refusing to delay a Thursday hearing with Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford. They have now hired an outside counsel to ask questions, something Ford specifically opposed.

This as the president is attacking the credibility of the second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, suggesting she is part of a con game by Democrats.

Tonight, GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski, a potential swing vote on Kavanaugh, is urging her party to take the judge's accusers seriously. But top Republicans insist Kavanaugh will be confirmed possibly this weekend.

I will get reaction from Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

He is in New York covering the president.

Jim, the president's U.N. speech was overshadowed today once again by the Kavanaugh controversy.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Overshadowed by events back home, and the president today offered his most stunning comments to date in the fight over Brett Kavanaugh, raising doubts about the second woman to accuse the Supreme Court nominee of sexual misconduct.

The president appears to be running out of patience with this nomination process, accusing the accusers, as you said, of being part of what he called a Democratic con game.


ACOSTA (voice-over): On the world stage at the U.N., President Trump injected himself into the court of public opinion on the fate of Brett Kavanaugh, all but dismissing allegations made by a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, who told "The New Yorker" the Supreme Court nominee sexually abused her at Yale University.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The second accuser has nothing. The second accuser doesn't even know -- she thinks maybe it could have been him, maybe not. She admits that she was drunk. She admits time lapses. There are time lapses.

ACOSTA: The president told reporters too watched Kavanaugh's interview on FOX, offering the judge his full support.

TRUMP: You know, when he said that really what he was focused on was trying to be number one in his class at Yale, to me, that was so believable. His wife is devastated. His children are devastated. I don't mean they're like, oh, gee, I'm a little unhappy. They're devastated.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump's comments seemed to run counter to Press Secretary Sarah Sanders' openness to hearing Ramirez testify next to Kavanaugh's first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, at a hearing set for Thursday.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly, we would be open to that, and that process could take place on Thursday.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: I'm not going to let false accusations drive us out of this process and, you know, we're looking for a fair process.

ACOSTA: The White House is firmly behind Kavanaugh, whose personal life has been exposed in full detail.

KAVANAUGH: I never sexually assaulted anyone. I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter, and the girls from the schools I went to and I were friends.

ACOSTA: The Kavanaugh saga has temporarily overshadowed the other White House melodrama, whether the president will fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after he allegedly offered to secretly record Mr. Trump. TRUMP: I'm meeting with Rod Rosenstein on Thursday. Today, I'm doing

other things, as you probably have heard.

ACOSTA: At the U.N., there was a clear signal of how some parts of the world view the Trump presidency. As the president bragged about his accomplishments, foreign leaders couldn't help but laugh.

TRUMP: In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.


TRUMP: America is -- so true.


TRUMP: Didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK.



ACOSTA: It was a reminder there is a Trump tweet for everything.

When Barack Obama was president, Mr. Trump tweeted: "We need a president who isn't a laughingstock to the entire world. We need a truly great leader."

During the president's U.N. speech, German officials could be seen chuckling when Mr. Trump accused them of being dependent on Russian energy.


TRUMP: Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.

ACOSTA: The president later insisted he didn't mind the laughter.

TRUMP: That was meant to get some laughter, but it was great.


ACOSTA: And the Trump administration is ramping up the rhetoric on Iran. The national security adviser earlier today, John Bolton, said the Iranians would have hell to pay if it crosses the U.S.

Wolf, that came after the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, essentially accused the president of having what he called a -- quote -- "Nazi disposition."

But, Wolf, I think it can be argued those were not the most shocking comments of the day, as the president once again in this Brett Kavanaugh saga stood with the accused and not the accusers -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta in New York, thank you. We have more breaking news on Brett Kavanaugh's reaction to the second

woman now accusing him of sexual misconduct.

Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly.

Phil, what is the latest?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a congressional source said this afternoon Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, had a phone call with Republican staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee to explicitly discuss the latest allegations, those allegations from Deborah Ramirez.

Now, the source says that he denied those allegations, much like he did in the FOX News interview last night. The source also made clear the committee has been going back and forth with Deborah Ramirez's lawyer, trying to set up some kind of conversation there as well.

At this point, nothing has come to fruition on that front. And it is also worth noting that at this point the committee has no plans to invite Deborah Ramirez to testify at the Thursday hearing. However, they have had the discussion with Brett Kavanaugh. And, Wolf, Brett Kavanaugh once again denied all of the allegations that have been laid out.

BLITZER: As Republicans, Phil, close ranks around Kavanaugh, at least most of them, one Republican senator is clearly signaling she may break ranks.

MATTINGLY: Yes, that's right. That's Senator Lisa Murkowski.

And, look, it is no secret in the Capitol that she is a crucial swing vote, has made very clear that she wasn't settled on Brett Kavanaugh before the nomination and certainly is waiting until Thursday before she decides now.

And she has taken a distinctively different approach than what you have heard from Republican leadership and what Jim just laid out from the president. She believes Deborah Ramirez should be heard. Take a listen.


SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: If she has serious allegations that she is willing to come forward on and request the opportunity to be heard, as Dr. Ford did, I think that there is a process for all of that, a process before the committee. I don't want to see further delay.


MATTINGLY: Now, Wolf, it is worth noting Lisa Murkowski is not calling for any delays right now. She is not calling for this to be postponed or pushed off, like Democrats are, but she is differing from Republicans who say that that second allegation is a smear and she is very clearly a keen example of somebody who will be watching the Thursday hearing very closely.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right.

Phil, the Senate Judiciary Committee has now hired a female outside counsel to question Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. This is something that Ford's legal team did not want, so what has been the reaction?

MATTINGLY: Yes, it was a significant point of disagreement. We have seen it in letters back and forth. We heard readouts from sources who are familiar with the call from Debra Katz, the attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, and the Judiciary Committee.

But Republicans decided to go forward, which they said was their prerogative. They have decided to do that. Now, the reason is twofold. First and foremost, there are 11 Republicans on the committee. All 11 are men, and Republican officials I have been speaking to for the last week or so are keenly aware of the optics of that, given the very sensitive issue they will be discussing.

But there's also the issue, as Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley put it, of depoliticizing this hearing. They recognize how it is all going to look, the circus atmosphere that it might contain, and they want somebody not only who is outside of the committee ranks, but also somebody with professional experience, to do the questioning.

Now, senators will still have the opportunity to question, but, Wolf, not unlike Christine Blasey Ford's lawyers, Democrats have taken the same position. They believe this makes this look like a trial, not a hearing, and they're very opposed to this idea, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, 11 Republicans, all male, on the Judiciary Committee, 10 Democrats, four of whom are women. Phil Mattingly, we will watch this Thursday very, very closely.

Joining us now, one of the United States senators who will have a final vote on the Kavanaugh nomination, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: You're welcome, Wolf. Good to be with you.

BLITZER: All right, the second most senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Senator Orrin Hatch, says Kavanaugh is going to be confirmed.

Do you think anyone is going into Thursday's hearing with an open mind, or is this hearing just for show?

MERKLEY: It seems like the 11 Republican men are not going in with a desire for any sort of a fair process.

If they wanted a fair process, as Kavanaugh actually called for a fair process, then both Kavanaugh and R-11 -- the Republican 11, would say, we want that FBI investigation. [18:10:07]

We even did that with Anita Hill back there in 1991. Well, here we are, a generation into the future, and we have a more extreme version of Republican men saying they don't even want any form of fairness in this process.

BLITZER: Do you include Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, on -- who is a member of that committee as part of that list?

MERKLEY: I have not heard if Senator Flake has said, I will not vote in this committee unless these women are treated fairly. And that includes the FBI investigation that they have requested.

And if he has said that, I have not heard that.

BLITZER: What message does it send for Republicans on the committee to have a female outside counsel do all of the questioning, instead of the Republican senators themselves?

MERKLEY: They're turning this into a trial setting.

She agreed to come and answer the questions and address the issues raised by the members of the committee, not to be come and put on trial. It is completely inappropriate.

BLITZER: Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is not a member of the committee, says an FBI investigation could answer the questions about these accusations, and she thinks perhaps the second accuser should also come and testify as well.

Why doesn't the Republican leadership seem to be listening to her?

MERKLEY: I think the Republican leadership has one goal, and that is to jam this individual, who is anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti- reproductive rights, always finds on behalf of the powerful, they are seeking to put him on the court come hell or high water.

We have now information regarding the freshman roommate, who says that Kavanaugh was -- and I quote -- "excessively and incoherently drunk," that he witnessed this, that the circumstances certainly add to that.

We have Michael Avenatti, who says he has a client with additional information about activities, inappropriate activities that Kavanaugh was involved in. We have Ms. Ramirez. We have Dr. Ford.

There were a lot of people who testified in 1991 during the hearings on Anita Hill. How is it that we can be a generation in the future, and we can't have a fair examination of a set of sources, a set of individuals with information to bear on the question?

Do we want the truth on someone who is getting a lifetime appointment to stand in judgment, the most important judgments about the application of the Constitution in the lives of ordinary individuals? Do we want that to be an unfair, jammed-through process? And right now, apparently, the R-11 are saying yes. BLITZER: Judge Kavanaugh went on FOX News last night, as you know, to

deny the allegations.

But the way Kavanaugh portrays himself is clearly very different from the picture we are getting from some others, including from his own yearbook, his high school yearbook, from some of his own classmates at Yale University, a roommate describing him, as you point out, as aggressive and belligerent -- quote -- "aggressive and belligerent drinking."

What do you make of that?

MERKLEY: It just -- it comes back to the fact that there's a portrait that is emerging of an individual who did not treat women well.

You mentioned the yearbook. We have heard about the reputation of his fraternity. We have heard from two women directly affected. We have heard that there are others that Michael Avenatti is ready to bring forward. We have heard from the freshman roommate.

This is why you have an FBI investigation. Now, this is not a criminal investigation. This is a background investigation. And it is standard that, when new information comes regarding the vetting of an individual, the FBI steps in and says, well, we will get the facts on this and help present them.

They are the appropriate folks to do it. The White House ordered just such an investigation with Anita Hill when there was additional information. Why is the White House not doing it now?

The president is attacking the victims, and that is just horrific in this day and age. I guess it is what we have come to expect from this individual in the Oval Office. Certainly, Kavanaugh, as somebody who is presenting himself as appropriate to serve on the court, should be the first person to stand up and say, absolutely, have the FBI check into it, have them talk to my colleagues in college who were there when this event is alleged to have occurred, or have the other associates who were involved in high school.

He should want clarity to -- in order to make his case. And when he says he wants a fair process, well, then stand up. Stand up, Mr. Kavanaugh. Stand up and demand a fair process, not stand up and deny a fair process.


BLITZER: Senator Merkley, thanks for joining us.

MERKLEY: You're welcome. It's good to be with you.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead, the president has abandoned all restraint when it comes to Brett Kavanaugh's accusers. Will that have an impact as Thursday's important hearing looms?

And will the deputy attorney general of the United States be fired, triggering turmoil potentially for the Russia probe? We're getting new insights into the Trump team's strategy just ahead of Rod Rosenstein's meeting with the president on Thursday.



BLITZER: We're following all the breaking news on the accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh and the fight over his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Right now, let's turn to the fate of the deputy attorney general of the United States, Rod Rosenstein.

White House officials say he won't necessarily be fired by President Trump when they meet at the White House on Thursday, but the fate of the man who oversees the Russia investigation is still very uncertain tonight.

Let's go to our justice correspondent, Evan Perez.

Evan, what are you learning about the strategy behind those calling in the House of Representatives for him to appear and testify in the coming days?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, behind the scenes right now, Wolf, there are people telling the president, some of the people close to the president are telling him not to fire Rosenstein at this meeting on Thursday, instead to let some of his allies in Congress sort of soften the ground for him.

One of the things you are seeing is Mark Meadows, Matt Gaetz going out and saying that they want Rosenstein to come testify in Congress about these comments that he allegedly made about wiretapping the president, and they believe that he will perform so badly at that hearing that it will at least -- you know, if he doesn't resign, it will make the case a little more politically palatable for the president to get rid of Rod Rosenstein.

As a backup, by the way, Mark Meadows is also talking about perhaps impeaching Rod Rosenstein at the end of all of this.

BLITZER: Yes, they don't have the votes to impeach him, I can tell you that, in the House, and certainly not the two-thirds necessary in the Senate.

PEREZ: Right.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about Robert Mueller, the special counsel. If he thinks that the man he reports to, Rod Rosenstein, is about to resign or be fired, what, if anything, can Mueller do to protect his entire Russia probe?

PEREZ: Right. There's a lot of what Mueller is up to that we still do not know, but we do believe, based on all of the signs we have seen, that this investigation has a few more things to come, more indictments to come. And so we may well see those come in the next few weeks or perhaps

right after the midterm elections. But it is one of the things that Mueller is doing, is, he's speaking through these indictments, the allegations. The findings of his investigation are coming out bit by bit in these indictments that come forward, you know, these charges that they bring in this investigation.

So it is one way that even -- for example, if the findings of his report somehow do not go forward to members of Congress, they will be able to see a lot of what Robert Mueller has found through the work that he is presenting in these indictments.

BLITZER: Evan Perez reporting for us, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Congressman Gerry Connolly. He is a Democrat who serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: So, we know President Trump was deeply angered by James Comey's testimony before Congress, so do you think that this effort by some of your Republican colleagues in the House could be successful?

CONNOLLY: I don't know how we measure success.

I mean, you know, this trio, Gaetz and Jordan and Goodlatte, sort of are a triumvirate that would rival Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition when it comes to destroying reputations and compelling testimony that frankly doesn't go where it is intended to go.

Meanwhile, of course, they see and hear no evil and have subpoenaed no members of the Trump administration for the scores of ethical conflicts and scandals that are real. And so they have clearly presented a double standard.

It reminds me, Wolf, of the old expression of a friend of mine, if you're going to be a phony, at least be sincere about it.


Can Rosenstein simply ignore all the president's attacks on him, the way his boss, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has apparently ignored all the humiliation and the attacks on him by the president?

CONNOLLY: You know, it is never easy to be the subject of public scorn, but, for the sake of the country and for the sake of the job he's doing at the Department of Justice, he has to sort of suck it up and bear that burden.

BLITZER: If Rosenstein is fired or forced out one way or another, does that put the entire Russia investigation in peril?

CONNOLLY: Well, we don't know how far along Mueller is in reaching conclusions. Clearly, it interrupts that investigation. And, potentially, yes, it

threatens the whole investigation. My hope is Mueller has been shrewd enough to back it up and to make sure that there are some exits that allow the investigation to continue even without his or Rosenstein's imprimatur.

BLITZER: Congressman Gerry Connolly, thanks so much for joining us.

CONNOLLY: My pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead, we are getting new information about Republican efforts to push through Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, plans they're putting in place right now, even before Thursday's hearing.


And the man once known as America's dad is ordered to do time in prison. We will discuss the significance of Bill Cosby's sentencing for sexual assault.


BLITZER: We have breaking news.

We have just learned that the Senate Judiciary Committee has now scheduled a vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's increasingly troubled Supreme Court nomination for 9:30 a.m. Friday morning.

Let's get some more with our analysts.

[18:30:05] David Swerdlick, what's your reaction to this timeline? The hearing is going the take place Thursday morning, and now they've scheduled a vote in the committee Friday morning.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The fact that they've scheduled a vote so early right after this hearing is supposed to take place does suggest to me that they want to get this over with. The Republicans get control of the Judiciary Committee and control of the Senate, and that a lot of the senators' minds are made up, regardless of what they hear in this testimony.

You would expect, ultimately, Judge Kavanaugh to be confirmed unless the story changes significantly, based on what senators have said. But the idea that it's like, "Oh, we're so confident that we're not going the hear anything that would change our mind that we're just going right to it," I do think is a little bit -- it does not reflect well on the Republican majority.

BLITZER: You know, Gloria, you know, the No. 2 on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch of Utah, says Kavanaugh is going to be confirmed. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, says exactly the same thing.

Do you think anyone is going into this -- this explosive hearing, potentially, on Thursday with an open mind? GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No. Probably not the

people sitting on the committee. There are two people we ought to look at, which is Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. They may be going into this with an open mind.

Susan Collins said earlier today she was going to be glued to the television set. Lisa Murkowski said today that she wanted to hear from the second woman, Ms. Ramirez. And I think they're key votes.

And, you know, Hatch and McConnell are very optimistic, they say, but it really comes down to these -- to these women and what they decide. So they will be listening.

Are people on the committee going to change their minds? I doubt it, not at all. But I do believe that the testimony will be very important for the people actually who do have open minds about this.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting because the president earlier, Susan, he was sort of restrained in going after the accuser and now the accusers, but that went away completely today. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's horrible what the Democrats have done. It's a con game they're playing. They're con -- they're really con artists. They don't believe it themselves, OK. They know he's a high-quality person. They don't believe it.

Thirty-six years ago? Nobody ever knew about it, nobody ever heard about it. And now a new charge comes up and she said, "Well, it might not be him and there were gaps." And she said she was totally inebriated, and she was all messed up, and she doesn't know it was him but it might have been him. Oh, gee, let's not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that.


BLITZER: What's your reaction?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I don't think it's especially surprising. I think a lot of people probably understood that this really was the way the president felt deep down. After all, he has faced his own accusations and responded in a similar way.

You know, the way the president is talking about allegations of sexual assault -- that she was drunk, that she doesn't remember -- this is the way that we -- that we would expect people to talk about sexual assault 20 years ago, 30 years ago.

And so I do think that the women of this country are listening to the president's words. And, you know, we talked a lot about the president's ability to get away with things. I really do think November is going to be the first time for the American people and, frankly, for the women in the United States of America to decide whether or not saying these kinds of things is acceptable in our public political life.

BORGER: You know, he's not helping the case. I mean, Mitch McConnell, as we know, wants him to be quiet. I don't think Mitch McConnell watched that performance today and was very happy with it.


BORGER: I can't imagine he was.

BLITZER: I'm sure you're right. You know, Phil Mudd, you worked at the CIA, but you also worked at the FBI. If the president, which he's not going to do, let's say, or anyone said to the FBI, "You know what? Investigate these allegations from 30, 35 years ago," could the FBI do that?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Sure, and I think to be clear, there's no equity in this country. If this came up during my background investigations -- and I had many over the years -- I can't believe the FBI or others -- I worked for Director Mueller -- would have said, "Well, let's just give him the job without investigating." They wouldn't have been able to look at digital data. We're going back 35 years. But how about going and talking to people who were school mates. You're going to talk about what was the environment in the school, and you're often going to say who was there?

By the way, the Republicans would have won out of that. They could have said, "We're going to put a cap on this. It's a two-week process. The attorney general says they can do this in two weeks. If you want to talk to Michael Avenatti, you ought to go to the FBI first, because they will interview you in private. We're not going to talk about it on the Hill."

And I think they'd get a report out that said he said-she said, and they'd be able to proceed without all this nonsense. But yes, they could investigate this.

BLITZER: As you know, David, the -- in his interview with his wife last night on FOX News, Brett Kavanaugh, he denied the allegations, and he tried to portray a picture of the time at school where he was working on being an excellent student, an athlete, his friendships, going to church, and the community work that he did.

That's not necessarily the complete picture you get from taking a look at the yearbook, the high school yearbook or conversations the people have now -- reporters have now had with other classmates, including his freshman -- his roommate at Yale University.

[18:35:04] SWERDLICK: Right. You would expect him to have come out in that interview last night and vehemently denied, as he did, the allegations. You'd expect that.

But then he went on, as you said, Wolf, to portray himself as being sort of arms-length from a lot of drinking and a lot of carrying on among high school students but not involved in it.

And then you look at his yearbook, his senior quote or his senior paragraph and you say, OK, either he was being a little -- he was downplaying in the interview or he was up-playing something in his yearbook quote, which is understandable for a teenager; but at the same time, it suggests that there is this inconsistency.

BLITZER: And then you have the letter from his college roommate who says he was drunk a lot of the time.

And so what I don't understand is the strategy of trying to portray himself as a choir boy when he was in high school or when he was in college when he clearly wasn't. He could say, "You know what? I regret that I drank too much in college. I think that was terrible, but I was a young guy and I did. I never" -- he could say, "I never sexually assaulted anybody," if that is his truth and that's what he wants to say.

But why deny the kind of obvious things that are already out there if you want to be believable? Because his portrayal is so different from the portrayal of people who were around him a lot. And I -- I just don't -- I just don't understand the rationale here.

HENNESSEY: And the fact that he's being obviously dishonest now does undercut the broader denial.


HENNESSEY: You know, if he's being dishonest about this, you know, what else is he being dishonest about?

BORGER: Yes, I don't get that.

HENNESSEY: The other thing is, to the extent people are talking about his conduct in high school sort of separate and apart from the actual assault, but the drinking and sort of this callous treatment of women, you know, he could say that's in the past. But lying about it, refusing to accept responsibility, that's something he's doing now. That reflects on his judgment right now.

MUDD: Let's snapshot this. I think there's a critical point here. The president is talking about referring to something that happened 35, 36 years ago.

In the past week or so the story has changed. It's not just whether someone was touched inappropriately more than three decades ago. It's whether a Supreme Court -- a potential Supreme Court justice is honest today.

And when he went on TV last night, I'm sitting back there saying, "Why are you doing this? You're throwing out red meat for people who are going to poke holes in every bit of your presentation and say, 'That's not the high school that we went to, and that's not the high school student we saw.'"

BORGER: So that's the question about why not just be more honest about mistakes you may have made when you were younger?

Remember, George Bush, you know, said -- you know, apologized for mistakes that he made when he was drinking too much. So I don't understand why you wouldn't be more honest about it and why you present this picture of yourself that is clearly at odds with what other people say. While you can still say, "Look, I didn't sexually assault anyone."


BORGER: "You know, I might have been a bad boy, and I -- and I regret it." I just --

BLITZER: It's a little late, though, for him to change it --

BORGER: Of course, of course.

BLITZER: -- after he's already made all these statements --

BORGER: It is.

BLITZER: -- including private Q&A with members of the committee and all of that.

BORGER: It is. Yes.

BLITZER: What do you make of the Republican notion that they've hired a female outside consultant to basically go and ask questions instead of the 11 Republican men on the committee?

HENNESSEY: Well, so there are some limited circumstances in which you might -- it might be a good idea for Congress to use an outside counsel in order to sort of develop the truth, but that's not what's happening here. Right? They're not actually using this person because they want to get to the truth of what happened. They're using this person because it's a woman, because it is apparently someone who's a trained prosecutor, and because they want to have the political arms-length from what's about to -- what they intend to do to Dr. Ford, which is attempt to attack her, impeach her credibility.

And so I do think that it is -- it's sort of a sign of, one, sort of the ugliness of what's about to happen; and, two, that they are already ashamed of themselves and understand how poorly this is going to play politically.

BLITZER: Would it be a double standard if she, the outside consultant, only did the questioning for her, for Professor Ford, as opposed to Judge Kavanaugh, let the senators ask the questions to Kavanaugh?

HENNESSEY: It would be a relatively -- relatively strange strategy. One of the issues is we actually don't even know who this person is. The Republicans continue to be secretive about the person that they're bringing in, and so everything here really does make this sound like it's not good faith. It really is sort of a political optic.

SWERDLICK: Can I just quickly add?

BLITZER: Yes. SWERDLICK: Yes. They're also just abandoning their duties as

senators. Each of these senators represents an entire state. That they're essentially saying they can't handle examining Dr. Ford as a witness says something about their ability to do their job.

BLITZER: Everybody stick around. There's much more. As the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, faces possible firing, some of President Trump's congressional allies want him to testify. So what's behind this strategy?

Plus, there's breaking news. Bill Cosby heading to prison tonight for sexual assault. We have details of his dramatic sentencing.


[18:44:33] BLITZER: Some of President Trump's allies up in Congress want the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, to testify about reporting by CNN and others that he discussed secretly recording the president and recruiting cabinet members to have Mr. Trump declared unfit and removed from office.

David Swerdlick, what's -- what's behind this strategy from those conservative House Republicans?

SWERDLICK: I think it's to bring the topic of the deep state and the establishment being against President Trump back to the front burner of our discussions.

Look, if these weren't some of the same congressmen who had already made efforts or made moves to try and get Rosenstein impeached earlier or introduced legislation to get him impeached, then there might be a little

[18:45:03] Look, if these weren't some of the same congressmen who had already made efforts or made moves to try and get Rosenstein impeached earlier or introduced legislation to get him impeached, then there might be a little more credibility with the idea that, look, we just want to bring him in to ask about this limited instance where according the "New York Times" he talked about wearing a wire when he went to talk to President Trump. But since it is some of the same congressmen, you have to wonder what the real motivation is.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Phil Mudd, how do you see it?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I mean, credibility? Are you kidding me?

In one place, the Congress says media reports from the fake news like "New York Times" and CNN are so lacking in credibility that we tell multiple women who have accusations with some detail about a Supreme Court nominee that we're not even sure they need to be heard because we can't stand the media.

Now, there's media reports on Rod Rosenstein and those are so compelling that we think without investigation that the deputy attorney general, who has been confirmed by the Senate, needs to come down immediately. So, I think I know what's going on here. This is a witch hunt. We're in Salem and Rod is the warlock. They're going after him.

BLITZER: It's pretty amazing, Susan, when you think about it. The Attorney General Jeff Sessions, nominated by the president, confirmed by the Senate, the president clearly doesn't like him. The deputy attorney general nominated by the president, confirmed by the Senate, the president clearly doesn't like him. Now, these House conservatives are going after him.

SUSAN HENNESSEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY ATTORNEY: Right. So, this is the president's own Justice Department. So, he wants the paint this as there are people, political actors out to get him. The thing he doesn't like is the institution of the Department of Justice, the rule of law. That's the thing that he is chasing against here.

And I think what we're really seeing is a breakdown of congressional oversight. Ordinarily, we expect members of Congress, even Republicans, to discharge their legislative responsibilities and check the executive branch. What we are seeing Republicans in the House essentially aligning themselves with the president in order to offer these pretense reasons to impeach Rod Rosenstein, bring him in, attempt to get this testimony they think obviously is going to result in his firing. I really think it's something we haven't quite seen before.

BLITZER: You know, the president has set the stage for this big meeting he's going to have when he comes back to Washington. He's at the White House Thursday, meets with Rod Rosenstein, and a lot of us are going to be watching what is happening in the Senate Judiciary Committee with the Kavanaugh hearing. But, all of a sudden, we might get word on the future of Rod Rosenstein and the impact on the Russia probe.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Just from our own reporting, my reporting, my colleagues' reporting, it seems to me that the president has been convinced not only from his friends over at Fox News but from other -- from other attorneys that this would not be a great time to fire Rod Rosenstein.

We all know he's going to do it. It is not if but when. And will that be after the election? That was always my presumption.

Then I think Rosenstein kind of got out over his skis yesterday and sort of ran in with whatever he had, offering to resign, verbal -- we're not sure how it occurred. But I think that he and the president are going to have a come-to-Jesus meeting where the president is going to ask him about this.

We know that Donald Trump doesn't like to fire people in person. So it may remain completely unresolved. Rod Rosenstein doesn't want to leave his job right now. He's overseeing this Mueller investigation.

And maybe his friends on Capitol Hill will help him say, I have no choice, I have absolutely no choice because look at the congressional hearing. Look at what they found. So, we'll have to watch it play out.

BLITZER: We'll see what the president tweets following that meeting. We'll learn a little bit more.

Guys, stick around. There's more news. There's breaking news. The comedian Bill Cosby now transferred to prison tonight after being sentenced for sexual assault.


[18:53:31] BLITZER: Breaking news, the comedian Bill Cosby in custody and sent to prison for sexual harassment following a dramatic sentencing hearing.

CNN correspondent Jean Casarez, and CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson, they're both in Norristown, Pennsylvania, where the sentence was handed down.

Jean, tell our viewers what happened.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I was inside that courtroom and it was packed courtroom, and before the sentencing began, it was just eerily silent. Andrea Constand, the victim and her family in the front row, accusers all throughout the courtroom. Bill Cosby really huddled with his attorneys near the end talking, and then the judge came in to begin to pronounce the sentence.

And he gave his reasons why, saying this is an extremely serious felony, this is a serious sexual harassment. And he talked about the planning of Bill Cosby, getting pills, knowing he had those pills applying them, giving them to Andrea Constand, rendering her unconscious and then sexually assaulting her. He told Bill Cosby no one is above the law and he said, you will be required to take a sexual offender's course in prison.

He then talked about the victim impact statements and they said that they valued him greatly in his sentencing decision. He said that Andrea Constant included that he had taken her young life, her young spirit and absolutely crushed it. In the end, he said, three to ten years, meaning he cannot go before the parole board before three years, you may not get out on that third year, but he should be arriving at state prison right now.

[18:55:10] And he took off his jacket, he took of his tie in the courtroom, we were all ushered out and then that's when they handcuffed him and took him out the door and to initially the correctional facility right here in Monroe County.

BLITZER: Yes, he's 81 years old, going to spend at least three years in prison, maybe as much as ten.

Joey Jackson, tell us what the sentence means.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Wolf, an icon has fallen. Just think about it for a minute, America's dad is in jail. And to be fair, it means different things to different people. If you're Andrea Constand, certainly, this is vindication. This is

not only for Andrea Constand and her family and what they endured and suffered, think about the magnitude of what this means and to all the victims who stood on her shoulders throughout this proceeding and who uplifted her, you know, this is just the culmination of such a long battle. Remember, it occurred in 2004.

If you're Bill Cosby, you heard the press conference from his team talking about there being tremendous racism here, talking about the lack of fairness and multiple witnesses who were allowed to testify for prior bad acts. But from a practical perspective in the #MeToo movement, this is a tremendous victory in general.

And think about our times, think about the accountability that #MeToo was able to bring about and think about the accountability in that courtroom. It is a historic day indeed for Bill Cosby to be going to jail, and to be going to state prison.

And so, you know, Wolf, it's just a tremendous day, compelling court testimony, compelling court experience. And you know what? Accountability has come to Bill Cosby as he goes to jail today.

BLITZER: Yes, pretty amazing sight to see him handcuffed and escorted on the way to prison for at least three years.

Joey Jackson, Jean Casarez, thanks very much.

Other important news we're following at the United Nations today, extraordinary moment. The French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron sharply revoking President Trump who addressed the world body earlier in the day.

Let's go to our senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski. She has details.

Michelle, in his speech, Macron, he reproached the Trump administration's policies on Iran, on climate change, on migration and a whole lot more.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Right, right. And if there was anybody here who was going to openly troll Donald Trump on his speech and not shy away from just bluntly hitting him on specific points, among U.S. allies that is, it was going to be French President Emmanuel Macron. Even though the two of them seemed to have a nice meeting together yesterday, he likes to stand up to Trump.

He's done it before, done on Twitter. Today, he did it in this fiery speech, during which at times he was just hammering his hands on the podium saying things like unilateralism only leads to isolation and conflict, that protectionism is not the way to solve the world's problem. At one point, he said, we are not stronger by closing our borders.

And just as the U.S. tried to used the kind of theme of this U.N. gathering to make into sovereignty and protecting nation's sovereignty, well, Macron and his speech said he upholds sovereignty but almost mocked the way that Trump uses the term. Listen.


PRES. EMMANUEL MACRON, FRANCE (through translator): I shall never stop upholding the principle of sovereignty, even in the face of certain nationalism, which we are seeing today, brandishing sovereignty as a way of attacking others.


KOSINSKI: Macron also urged nations to stop doing trade deals with countries that don't support the Paris climate agreement. Well, there is one country in the world that does not support it, and that is the United States. So, there was no doubt who he's talking to here.

This is one more example of how the U.S.'s closest friends at the U.N. here are using this time together to find workarounds and counters to some of the things U.S. is doing, most notably the Iran nuclear deal, they are working to try to hold together, keep doing business with Iran even in the face of continued U.S. threats and sanctions even against U.S. allies -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And there was really an awkward moment at the beginning of the president's speech at the General Assembly, when he said, that he was talking about how great everything is here in the United States, the economy and a lot of world leaders started laughing at him, as opposed to with him. He clearly wasn't happy about that.

KOSINSKI: Yes, you heard the rumble start up in the crowd. It takes a few seconds for the translation to go through but once it did, you heard laughter. He seemed to be taken back, handled it well, though, saying he didn't expect that reaction but unmistakable how many felt about those words, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure the president of the United States not very pleased that all these leaders who had gathered at the U.N. general assembly, nearly 200 countries, so many of them started chuckling and laughing when he was boasting about the strong U.S. economy, as if it was some sort of campaign rally, and he handled it as you pointed out.

Michelle, thank you very much, Michelle Kosinski, for covering the president in New York.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.